Saturday, October 25, 2008

Trying another angle

Ok. One more bone to pick about the political situation. For you McCain supporters, I've heard over and over that I cannot support a Presidential candidate who supports an intrinsic evil (although Cardinal Ratzinger prior to becoming the Holy Father clearly wrote that there are situations where you can vote for someone who supports abortion as long as that isn't the specific reason you are voting for them and that there are balancing issues).

Here's the problem. McCain also supports intrinsic evil, in the form of abortion. McCain does support abortion in certain cases, and even if those are politically debateable, the Church has not allowed debate on them. So, let's make a logical argument here:

A) I cannot vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil
B) Abortion in any case is an intrinsic evil
C) McCain supports abortion in some cases
D) McCain supports an intrinsic evil
E) I cannot vote for McCain

Now, I reject this hypothesis, because everyone turning this into a single issue election is, quite frankly, wrong to do so and bind it on others. (In other words, if your conscience won't allow you to vote for someone who supports abortion, or forces you to choose the one who supports "less" abortion, then that is your choice.) I've chosen to support the candidate, who to my knowledge, does not support any intrinsic evil, including killing innocent (unborn also) in Iraq.


mel said...

And this is why the American system works -- people being able to work through and wrestle with the issues and their own convictions in order to decide what their vote will be. Thanks for sharing your thought processes with us.

And we continue to pray....

~Joseph the Worker said...

Don't know if you noticed, Mel, but I'm voting for a Presbyterian for President :)

The Catholic Journeyman said...

Being blunt here, cuz I know you can take it. Ponder this logic:

If you vote third party for pro-life, anti- iraq war candidate (who has a mathematically impossible chance to win), and Obama is ahead in the electoral college, with a lesser evil (McCain) within reach of winning, you just supported Obama by removing your vote for McCain.

Voting consistent with Catholic Conscience can be a defensive move.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Not so for two reasons. First of all, the "mathmatics" are based off of polling. On that aspect, McCain stands no chance to win either - he's done for, even with the margin of error and even if he won every swing state.

Secondly, (and again based off polling), McCain will easily win my state, and "mathematically", my vote won't change a single thing (which is probably the most solid of all the statistics here). Therefore, I will stand for the candidate who does not support any form of intrinsic evil, and thus not violate my conscience.

Furthermore, I also might make the comment that if we all voted for the candidate who did not support intrinsic evil, for that reason, and he even got 10% of the vote, it could lead to wonderful things in the future.

The Catholic Journeyman said...

Hey, polls have been right way more than wrong historically, and I was referring to Electoral College which involves pledged delegates/non-pledged being tracked as well as historical voting trend mapping, another speculative tool using factual data.

I understand your logic Joseph, its clear, but I find it limiting in application to getting someone in office that has a possible chance and is not the farthest from Rome.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Yes, I understand your thoughts too. I think this underscores the fact that we cannot rely on politicians to hand out the moral values to our country, and the Church needs to be much more active over the next 4 years in opposing evil in all its forms and especially abortion.

Anonymous said...

I and my brother just had this exact same conversation yesterday with my mom, who says we should vote for McCain and not a third party because voting for a third party is "throwing your vote away." While it's true in a sense, it's like that because that's what the two corporate-controlled parties tell us, and people believe them. I just watched a documentary on Nader called "An Unreasonable Man." You should watch it, Joseph, and so should the catholic journeyman. Although Nader believes in abortion and therefore I, and probably all of you, don't support his campaign, the movie really shows the greedy domination by the two parties in public forums. The Debate Commission, for example, is so completely unfair and one-sided.

~Joseph the Worker said...

I should watch it because I would agree with 90% of what he says. My wife is actually voting for Nader, and she is adopted from South Korea and by proxy extremely anti-abortion.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he has a lot of good ideas, and he's never really been a politician, just an activist. That documentary's cool and makes me somewhat of a fan, but I just don't feel comfortable voting for a pro-choice candidate at the end of the day.

~Joseph the Worker said...

I don't either, that's why I can't vote for McCain :P

Stephanie said...

Well the way I've heard it explained is that in the case where there are two candidates who both support intrinsic evil, you may choose to vote for the lesser of the two evils, so long as you're not voting for that person because they support those evils.

That's pretty much what the McCain voters I know are doing.

There's also the argument that even the abortion exceptions McCain supports would be a HUGE step in the right direction, would reduce abortions by far, etc. That wouldn't mean the work is done, but it's seen as a step in the right direction, whereas the other side would be opening the doors for even more abortion.

It's all moot for me now, though...I ended up deciding, like you, to vote third party. ;-)(For a Catholic!)

~Joseph the Worker said...

I don't doubt that (at least on the abortion issue) Stephanie, but the problem lies in here: If there is a third party who doesn't support any intrinsic moral evil, according to a lot of the arguments people are putting forth, you would have to vote for that third party.

The only objection is "well that third party can never win" or "the margin of victory for Obama matters", but that's also moot because it is based off polling which says McCain cannot possibly win, and I guarantee if the Catholics could put 5% vote for a non-morally intrinsically evil candidate it would get a heck of a lot more attention than Obama winning by 12 instead of 7 points.

Stephanie said...

Right, I totally agree...if someone says they can't vote for Obama on the grounds that he supports an intrinsic evil alone (without mentioning "lesser evil" type stuff), then they couldn't vote for McCain on those same grounds and, as you said, would have to choose a 3rd party or refrain from voting. I'd have to wonder if a person making that argument was aware of some of McCain's positions, though! Most McCain voters I know (who are by and large reluctant voters) use the lesser evil argument, which I think makes more sense.

I will be curious to see how many 3rd party votes there are this year...but I doubt it will be enough to catch people's attention!

Rene'e said...

"Most McCain voters I know (who are by and large reluctant voters) use the lesser evil argument, which I think makes more sense."

That would be me. I am aware of McCain's stance on the issues. The way I see it though is with McCain, things will pretty much stay the same regarding abortion laws as they currently are, I do not expect him to futher the cause along for more anti-abortion laws, but I am not expecting a drastic backslide either.

If Obama should win, we lose all the advancements gained in the war on abortion and start back to square one.This is a man who stated that his own grandchildren would be considered punishment for his children, if they should make a mistake.

I see McCain as the lesser evil of the two. Regarding my conscience alone, to vote 3rd party or not vote, would be no different than not trying. How I personally feel about this is similiar to the scenario I read on a friends blog. If four babies were drowing and I could only save two, would that stop me from trying.

My answer is no.

Obama or McCain is going to be president, not a third party candidate. I will choose another time to make a personal statement to the public, but not now with my vote.Regardless of what the media or polls say, I know I tried to save some of the children who will not be born.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Rene's argument reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons where two aliens take over the bodies of the presidential candidates. When they are truly revealed, on guy yells "I'm going to vote for Nader" and the alien says "Sure, go ahead and throw your vote away on a third party". The guy goes "Yeah, he's right", and then they are all enslaved by the aliens when they all STILL vote Republican or Democrat in the election.

Rene'e said...

That's okay.

It is very personal for me, I do not expect you to understand,but my difficult decision to vote for the lesser evil, makes perfect sense to the people who know me personally.

Anyway, I agree with Dave.

Stephanie said...

I totally understand and respect the decision to vote McCain as the lesser evil...I waffled back and forth about what to do, and it was an option I seriously considered.

If I had been in a swing state, I likely would have gone ahead and voted McCain. Seeing as I'm in Texas, it's pretty certain our state is going to McCain anyway, so I felt ok going third party as a kind of protest vote. We are stuck in a 2 party system that is not reflective of what many of us want.

I do think the arguments against third party voting are annoyingly like scare tactics...for instance, I'm not voting for Obama by voting for a third party, I'm voting for the person I voted for, who is completely pro life across the board and not just partially. My conscience is clean and clear. I can understand the concern about losing votes for a viable candidate, really I can, but I simply refuse to be cornered and threatened anymore. I'm tired of voting against someone, I want to be able to vote FOR someone. Our country will get the candidate they deserve, sadly, and at this point I feel prayer is more important than my vote anyway.

Bottom line for me is, I respect other people's right to make their chice and I trust they are doing so with the best of intentions and much thought. I only wish that respect was mutual from all sides.

Greg said...


I respect the fact that you cannot vote for Obama or McCain. I think it is very good that you are making a strong attempt to form and follow your conscience. I disagree with your logic in voting 3rd party, but I think we can agree to disagree about that.

You have accurately identified abortion as intrinsically evil, but you also say that other issues are intrinsically evil as well. It almost sounds like you are putting them on equal grounds as abortion. We must be reading very different Catholic teachings on this. Yes, war is very bad, and I will agree that in most cases it is morally wrong. However, it is NOT “intrinsically” evil. I can see it being evil in some cases, but strong arguments could be made to support war (e.g. fighting terrorists in the long run will prevent innocent people from dying). Same with capital punishment -- it is not “intrinsically” evil as it can be argued in some cases it could prevent innocent people from dying (e.g. executing psychopathic mass murderers is justifiable). I’m sure we could spend a lot of time debating this, but I’ll leave it as this for now.

For a good Catholic to make statements such as, capital punishment and war are equally intrinsically evil as abortion, is irresponsible and flat out wrong. Abortion is always wrong, never justifiable, and always intrinsically evil. All the other issues added together could still not be worse than abortion.

At times it almost sound like you might be saying it is okay for some people to choose to vote for Obama. If you think Ratzinger has ever implied this, please provide documentation to back it up – actually what Ratzinger says would be a stronger argument for voting McCain in my opinion. Certainly people are free to make their own choices, and we cannot criticize the ignorance of their mistakes. However, we have well informed Catholics in our Church, including theologians and priests (you might just know one of them very well) who support Obama. Some strong, orthodox Catholic Bishops have recently said, “this is insanity!”

Fine, don’t vote for McCain, no problem. But be cautious of misleading people into thinking that they can vote in good conscience for Obama. We as Catholics should not, and cannot, support Obama in any way! Obama sounds very smooth on issues as anti-war, anti-capital punishment, and anti-poverty, but he STRONGLY supports abortion, has plans to overturn the partial-birth abortion ban, and even supports infanticide! Anyone who supports this cannot be trusted on any other positive issues they “claim” to support. Please look very carefully at these images, then tell me how a Catholic (or any other Christian) could justify a vote for Obama.

And finally, here is an article that does a very good job of supporting my argument. I wish WV had a bishop like this one.

There, I feel better. God bless Joseph!


~Joseph the Worker said...

No, I think you misread, Greg. McCain supports intrinsic evil in the sense of murdering the unborn. Not only does he not have an anti-abortion standpoint (he supports abortions in cases), but he also supports certain war measures that will kill the unborn (such as the whole "bomb bomb bomb" thing.) I am not equating war to abortion, but we would do well to remember that an unjust war ends up murdering MANY innocent babies (born and unborn) as well - and regardless of what you might personally think of the war, the Church has been skeptical, at the very best, and has pretty much rejected the idea that a preemptive war can be considered just.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Oh, and one more thing: St. Augustine included Unjust War in his list of intrinsic evils.

Stephanie said...

Don't forget about McCain's support for ESCR funding as well...that, too, is an intrinsic evil. (And yes, his view is less severe than Obama's who wants to create new embryos just for ESCR, while McCain "only" wants to fund the use of existing embryos, but it is still an intrinsic evil.)

I don't in any way mean that as a justification for voting for Obama, since obviously his position is even worse. But an intrinsic evil is still that, even if it's not as bad as the other candidate's intrinsic evils. It seems sometimes that this is overlooked.

Greg said...


Okay, I here what you are saying about McCain. Let me ask you this. Do you believe it to be acceptable for a faithful Catholic to vote for Obama?


~Joseph the Worker said...

I could say this much (and sorry it's complicated, but I think it's a complicated issue):

1) I could not personally vote for Obama. My conscience will not allow it.

2) If a Catholic votes for Obama with the intention of supporting abortion, that is morally unacceptable (as per what the Bishops have said collectively)

3) If a Catholic, discerning his or her own conscience, decides to vote for Obama because he feels that Obama is the lesser evil (for whatever reason, misinformation, counting up numbers of innocents they believe will be killed under both, looking at healthcare, poverty issues, war issues, and believing that neither will do anything about abortion), then I cannot make a judgment call about that person's decision.

4) Getting into the smaller details here, let me turn that question around. If it is morally impermissible for a Catholic to vote for Obama PERIOD (not taking conscience or balance issues into question), what makes it morally impermissible? Obviously, the fact that he supports intrinsic evil. But, as the rest of these posts have been saying, so does McCain. By logical conclusion, it would be morally impermissible to vote for either one.

So, I'll hold to what the Church collectively has said. If you are a Catholic who votes for a candidate because he holds a position that is intrinsically evil, that is morally unacceptable. Beyond that, the Church hasn't said any more, regardless of what some more right-leaning (politically) bishops or priests have said individually.

Greg said...

Interesting response. Addressing your 2nd and 3rd points:

2. If a Catholic understands what abortion is, and undertands Obama's radical position on abortion, it would be laughable for an Obama-supporting Catholic to agrue they didn't "indend" to support abortion.

3. I'll defer to my previous argument. If a candidate supports abortion agressively, as does Obama, it is again laughable for someone to make a calculation that all the other wonderful Obama issues outweighs abortion. How can someone take Obama seriously with the other issues (healthcare, economic policy, etc.) when he is for aggressivly killing babies? The misinformation piece doesn't fly. Priests and theologians know better.

I'll side with the right leaning bishops any day of the week. Our country is in deep trouble.

~Joseph the Worker said...

I don't feel it is my place to judge other peoples' motives for voting for Obama, or any other candidate for that matter, but you are free to have your own opinion about them. :)

Greg said...

Joseph, you acknowledge that you could never vote for Obama. You have made it clear the reasons why. Then you say, "I don't feel it is my place to judge other peoples' motives for voting for Obama, or any other candidate for that matter..."

How would you react to someone in a position of Catholic authority trying to persuade others that abortion is not that big of an issue? Would you simply stand back and say that they are entitled to there own opinion? Or would you be troubled that their reckless theology might misguide the formation of other people's consciences?

~Joseph the Worker said...

Hi Greg. Let me get this off my chest first of all. I love you as much as I could anyone, even though we have known each other for less than a year.

But, I have to stand behind what Pope Benedict has said

"A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

Beyond that, I cannot speak. I also cannot judge the motives of others. I also obviously don't know the specifics behind your comment about a "person in authority", again that is a very individual thing, and I have not been exposed to it, and that could take a lot of things into consideration (what that person thinks about the issue, what they think candidates are going to do about it, etc.) Again , I can't judge personal ideas, but it would be morally wrong for someone to explicitly agree with the intrinsic evil of abortion. Not much more I can say.

Greg said...


I love you too brother. I probably should not have used this forum to vent my frustrations (please know they are not directed at you personally).

I hear what you are saying and obviously I agree with the Pope. My biggest concern is when Catholics (I have a hard time considering them "faithful") mislead and misguide others into believing that there are other very good qualities about Obama that can outweigh his stance on abortion. I won't waste any more time on here expressing why this is not only rationalizing and justifying, but simply manipulative. There are theologians and priests that are very good at this, and it troubles me deeply. Just trying to defend the faith as best I can.

By the way, as a pro-life catholc, I thought you might appreciate this:

God bless!


~Joseph the Worker said...


I think it's a fine place to vent! :)